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(OF TOOTING, SUÉRY. [Extracted from the Funeral Sermon, by Dr. Winter, lately published.]
The Rev. James Bowden was born at Warminster, Dec. 3, 1745. His parents and his more remote ancestors were persons of distinguished piety. His mother especially, was esteemed as a Christian of the first order. Our departed friend appeared to be sanctified as from the womb, and has been heard to say, that he remembered not the time when he did not prefer the things of God to those of the world. His seasons of recreation when at school were chiefly employed in reading religious books, particularly Henry's Exposition, He joined the church at Warminster, under the pastoral care of Dr. Fisher, when about 15 years of age. Two of his elder brothers had studied for the ministry under the Rev. John Lavington; and both died just after they had finished their studies. The dying experience and counsel of the younger of them, directed bis views to the ministry.
His studies commenced under the same tutor, who had a great affection for him; - after whose death, he was removed with his fellow - students to the academy at Bridport, under the care of the Rev. Samuel Rooker, with whom he completed the usual course of academical studies in an honourable manner, and entered on the work of the ministry at Fareham, in Hampshire, in the year 1767, being then in his 22d year. Here he continued much beloved and increasingly useful, about eight years; but in October, 1775, having experienced a rapid decline of health, he found it necessary to refrain for a time from ministerial labours, and came to London. In January, 1776, being on a visit in Tooting, Dr. Wilton, then the pastor of this church, having received a call to the church at the Weigh-house, London, urged him to preach a lecture; which he did from 2 Pet. i. 10. “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure. Soon after this he returned to Fareham, and preached the following Sabbath, from Psa. lxxxv. 8. "I will hear what God the Lord will speak.' Unexpectedly, this proved to be his last sermon there; for his complaint, which seems to have arisen from some local influence,returned with such violence as to rer-ler an immediate removal absolutely necessary. Accordingly, two days after, he took leave of his people, who joined with him in a solemn and affectionate surrender of each other to the will of God.
The single sermon which he preached at Tooting was so acceptable to the congregation, and he was so warmly recommended to them by many who knew and respected him, that he was soon requested to supply the vacant pulpit; and after preaching three months, received an unanimous call to the pastoral Office. On the 25th of August, 1776, he publicly accepted the call, and preached from 1 Cor. ii. 9. I determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' a determination from the spirit of which he never departed to the day of bis death. During the 35 years in which he presided in this assembly, “yourselves, brethren, know, that his entrance in among you was not in vain.'' Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably, he behaved himself among you. Ye know how he exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory:
Mr. Bowden has appeared to me, throughout the long series of my acquaintance with him, to have exħibited to the imitation of young ministers, a most pure and holy model of what the pastor of a church ought to be. As a preacher, he was plain, serious, decidedly evangelical, and very practical. He preached the doctrines of Christianity as motives to holiness, as the fruits of the Spirit.'. A remarkable concern was always visible in his public ministration, to do good. It was scarcely possible to hear him preach without judging that all that he said proceeded from a heart warmed with love to Christ and zeal for the salvation of souls.
If his sermons were good, his prayers were pre-eminently excellent. The strain of godly simplicity, of pure devotion, the variety of scriptural expressions, the suitableness of his language to the nature of prayer in general, and to the particular occasion of the service, have often been remarked. His adó ministration of the peculiar ordinances of the gospel, especially of the Lord's Supper, discovered a savour and spirituality of mind far superior to what we usually witness, even in good and faithful ministers; on that solemn and delightful'occasion.
He was the faithful and affectionate pastor, as well as the laborious minister. He watched for the souls of his flock as one who must give account. His attention to the spiritual interests of the families and individuals to whom he ministered, was formed on the plan of the New Testament, and assisted by setting before him the admirable examples of the best Puritan and Nonconformist ministers of this country,
Although the sphere of his pastoral labours was not very extensive, yet the spot which he was appointed to cultivate was neither a barren nor an unproductive enclosure. His assiduous and persevering labours were not without visible reward. In confirming the faith and aiding the piety of the experienced believer, he had many delightful proofs of success. The chamber of sickness, the bed of death, the house of mourning, bore witness to his tender affection and enlightened zeal; and the living and the dead, could they join their testimony, would say of him what was said of David, the king of Israel, “He fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.
Our deceased friend was peculiarly devoted to the interests of the rising age. His public labours for their spiritual good, and his private affectionate conversations with his young friends, proved, that far beyond the happy limits of his own family, he had the heart of a father. Nor were his labours in this important department in vain. He was blessed with no small degree of usefulness among young persons; - and it is worthy of peculiar attention, that the more advanced years of his ministry were in this respect signally honoured. Some who, from their earliest infancy, had been the subjects of his affectionate prayers, he had the happiness of considering as the seals of his ministry, and of introducing to the table of the Lord. Never did any minister's heart beat with more grateful pleasure than his, on that delightful occasion. - His concern for the salvation of the young has met with gracious rewards not only in the living, but in the dying testimonies of those whom he had been instrumental in leading to the feet of Jesus, It is remarkable, that his closing testimony was a sermon preached on the death of a pious and amiable youth, who, from a child, had known the holy Scriptures.'
But it was not merely in his ininisterial and pastoral relation that Mr. B. was the friend of the young. The honourable, though arduous station which, for many years, he sustained as an instructor of youth, made him well known in this part of his character, far beyond the circle of his own congregation, Well qualified in other respects to convey useful knowledge to the opening mind, this was his most distinguishing qualification. Religious instruction, it is to be feared, is too much ne glected in many seminaries of education, even where some regard to the most important principles is professed. Our excellent friend considered himself as peculiarly entrusted with the souls of those young persons who were placed under bis
Besides the holy skill with which he embraced every
* The publication to which reference is here made, is entitled, “The Ad. vantage of an carly Acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures: a Sermon, oc, casioned by the distinguished death of Master Andrew Lee, October 24, 1811, aged 13 years, by J. Bowden.'